English Grammar

Past Tense vs. Present Perfect Tense

Hi there,

Somebody can tell me the difference between:

I went to Japan last year.
I have been to Japan in the last year.

I would use for both cases the Past Tense but obviously I am wrong.

Thanks for your comments.



  • You went to Japan last year. Good to you. I know precisely when you went: last year.
    You have been there in the last year. You leave me uncertain about the moment you went in the course of the year.
  • "Last year" and "in the last year" do not mean the same thing. "Last year" is a fixed time in the past while "in the last year" refers to a time period that is still open. So "I've been to Japan in the last year" means you went sometime up to now and you might/could go again during this time period. I wish I could draw a timeline here to help you understand better!
  • pid is right.

    There is different approach how to depict why the Present Perfect is used here.

    The present perfect is not only used for actions which began in the past and which are still lasting. It's also used for recurrent actions, actions that has taken place several times and are likely to happen in the future.

    For example, if you have been to Japan several times you use the present perfect: "

    "I have been to Japan several times."

    This also expresses the possibility that you will visit Japan again in the future.

    And if you want to point out that you've been to Japan in the last year, you say:

    "I've been to Japan in the last year".

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